Human Factor Engineering (HFE) is the process of implementing human capabilities in the design of products, workplaces or work systems (plant/facility) resulting in the effective, efficient, safe and healthy functioning of people, thereby improving operational and maintenance tasks. As a more formal definition, HFE is a multidisciplinary field that considers the integrated knowledge of human capabilities, limitations and needs in the interaction between humans, technology and the working environment.
HFE includes the design of user centred products, workstations and work systems. This science also addresses organisational issues and looks at how the job and tasks are structured and designed within a wider context so that human efforts are optimised and result in the greatest return for the organisation.
As human failure has contributed to most recent major accidents in the process industries, proactive analysis and design to acknowledge and then mitigate human error has been an integral aspect for this project. HFE aims to optimise the part of the work system known as the Human-Machine Interface (HMI). It specifically focuses on optimising the cognitive and physical aspects of the interface between humans and the technical system.
The key focus areas for the human factors assessment are as follows:
To ensure that all controls and displays/instruments and other operated machinery can be reached, operated and viewed effectively and safely by the expected working population.
To ensure that the need for safe and efficient maintenance tasks has been incorporated into the design.
To ensure that all areas of the plant and equipment can be accessed and evacuated safely and efficiently under normal, adverse and emergency conditions.
To ensure that requirements for lifting, pulling and pushing of equipment manually and mechanically have been considered bearing in mind the capabilities of the expected user population.
To ensure that situations where a human error could have a major process safety implication are fully identified, the human error risk understood, and practical measures to reduce risk considered & implemented in design.
To ensure environmental requirements applicable to human health, safety and performance including noise, lighting, vibration, climatic conditions and proximity to hot, cold, hazardous and contaminated equipment or areas have been addressed.
The following activities are to be performed as part of HFE assessment:
The IVA to identify the importance and criticality of valves by the means of a review workshop session. The IVA workshop will identify the criticality rating to every valve and most instruments on the facility. These ratings define the access requirements to key valves and instruments to ensure process or safety critical valves, or high frequency access valves have permanent access and ergonomic operating layout.
HFE 3D model reviews is typically conducted in early engineering to assess design compliance against the international codes / standards and HF best practice. This work will help to ensure a high level of design maturity in terms of meeting key layout and HFE accessibility requirements.
The FEEEM is conducted to analyse operational and maintenance tasks in order to identify specific human factors requirements and to determine whether a more detailed review is warranted on a task -by -task basis.
This analysis assesses the high priority tasks as identified in the FEEEM using a structured ‘what-if’ approach and human error guidewords.
The CCR ergonomics study is to review both the physical ergonomics of the CCR and associated rooms in order to verify that both the environment and the system are optimised for human performance, and prevention of human error. This study involves a number of functional and task analyses in order to support the design of a proposed CCR layout to meet company requirements and also international best practice regarding control room layout.